Information Management

I have been mulling about the distribution of information in the information age. Thus far we have left it up to a few to decide what is news worthy to be reported and what is not. Some items are obviously news worthy, such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean last month. But in the rush to report, are some reporter crossing the line to create news as when a reporter posed questions for soldiers to ask Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Sometimes even this subtlety of manipulation is lost as with this Medienkrikik report. In other instances reporters have become pawn of newsmaker wannabes such as this incidence on Haifa Street.
Now a day the consumer of news have more choices. Mass media and mainstream news outlet are readily available to all beyond regionalism via the net, perhaps the most apparent example of this is Google News. Certainly consumer choice is a huge step forward and long ago were the days when Henri Ford allows consumers to choose the color of the model-T, as long as it was black. But unlike manufactured items, news is not a passive tool to be wielded as we please, news affect us and has the model to make us the tools. And this is potentially true whether we allow the bias of the media to sway us, or allow our own bias to read only that which agree with us and make us inflexible and potentially close-minded.
Other than to be on constant vigil for bias, external and internal, I do not know how to obtain objective news or whether such is possible. Perhaps it is the next step of enlightenment, just like the acknowledgement of Newtonian physics is not a constant but is subjected to Einstein principle of relativity, that all news is bias and will always be so.


Sick Man

At its height of power in the 16th through 19th century, the Ottoman Empire encompassed south-eastern Europe, present day Turkey, Mesopotamia, and the African Mediterranean coast. The Ottoman served as gate keeper to the far east for europe, and as the Caliph of Islam, gate keeper for the Muslims. At its height, the Ottoman empire threatened the Christiandom of Europe militarily as well as culturally, a flowering of diversity, tolerance, and exploration. Like all blossoms, the Ottoman's wilting started long before the last petal fell in World War I, when it was widely referred to as the "Sick Man of Europe."

It is interesting to note that for most of the 19th century, its European presence and essence was acknowledged. Interesting that this is no longer the case as its direct descendent, modern Turkey, is no longer considered European enough to join the European Union. Never the less, after 50 years of trying, "negotiation" for Turkey's accession into the EU have finally been agreed to start in 2005. Naturally, strings and limitations will be attached.

What is remarkeable is not that the EU has finally agreed to the negotiation but is what the EU Turkey seek to join has become. At the end of the 19th century, the powers of the world still resided in Europe, of which the Ottoman was an important player still. At the beginning of the 21st century, the powers of the world is no longer in residence in Europe but instead reside in the United States of America, Japan, and the rising power of China. Like the Ottomans of the 19th century, the modern day Europeans continue to seek to influence to course of world events through the politics of prestige and diplomacy but lack the will and capacity militarily to defend their frontiers. It seems to me the old Sick Man of Europe is applying to join the Sick Man of the World.

Is the EU the equivalence of retirement community for old and faded powers?



I have been out of town for the past week, and will still be so for another week. No blogging till i return. Hope all enjoyed a good thanks giving.


Spirit of America

I first read about these guys months ago in the WSJ. I was sufficiently impressed to actually open an account to donate. They were overwelmed with the response from other readers like me. Spirit of America has been very active in many aspects of reconstruction projects for Iraq and Afghanistan. They still need help and have started a donation drive via the blogs. I've signed up and started the ball rolling without restriction toward a particular Projects. You can contribute through my site here. If you are a blogger you can set up your own blogger challenge.

Best wishes for all in support of Freedom and Democracy.


Old Enemies New Friends

Looking back on the history of the US global relation for the past 250 years i am struck with the realization of how many of our enemies are now our friends. First off there was Great Britain who we defeated and remained at odds with for the first 50 years of our nation's history. Now they are one of our closest allies. Then we briefly fought Spain and briefly Spain became a strong ally. Next came the big wars, which can be seen as a same set of bookcase, WW1 and WW2. Our enemies were firstly the Japanese, secondly the German, and thirdly the Italians. Japan remains our "UK" island ally in the Far Orient. Germany a hearty ally during the cold war, and the Italians have been with us through thick and thin. Then came the cold war, and our main adversary were the Soviet Unions and their minions. Currently we maintain good relationship with Russia, many of the former Soviet states, and strong relationship with the former Warsaw states.

Our oldest ally is France and there is little new to say about France today.

Of our major adversaries: UK, Spain, Japan,Germany, Italy, Russia, and the Warsaw pact, only Germany and Spain have sought to distance themselves. And for Spain it maybe an aberration rather than a strategic realignment.
Why has our enemies have become our friends? Is it a reworking of Realpolitiks?

My take is more general and less cynical. The main reasons this seeming paradox has occurred is because Americans do not wage war personally; it is not on a racial, ethnic, or even cultural dimension for the wars but for ideology, abstract concept that is available and applicable to all individuals. Freedom and self determination has been the core of American ideology since 1776. Thus when the war is won, whether it be the war for independence or against tyranny, the American ideology is held aloft as the symbol of victory. And this spoil of victory, this american ideology, is shared and granted to the vanquished. It was never us against them; it was our ideals against yours. Nothing personal.

I do not believe this has been the historical pattern for much of the world, and undoubtedly this contributed to the suspicion and reaction against American foreign policy of late.

Thus in this latest war we fight, this war against terror, we again present our ideals of freedom and self determination to combat their ideals of intolerance and oppression. Again we seek to grant to our enemies, men much like ourselves trapped within oppression, the rights deem innate to the human character. Our enemies are not men so much as the ideals that have perverse them. Already Afghanistan has been turned and are now starting to experience growing pain. And Iraq in its last throws of convulsions as the ideals of autocratic oppression die and liberty and self determination take root.

Looking back at the history of what have become those we once waged war against as enemies, i am optimistic that both Afghanistan and Iraq will one day be strong allies and partner with us for a Middle East liberated from oppression and individually empowered for self determination.


France Dearest

France, my love, though I have missed you, I have not missed you much. Your language once lightened my spirit, but now, laden with vitriol, it is burdensome and saps my joie de vivre. Your behavior, once coquettish in its charms, now seems only venal, self-serving and, well, provincial. The occasion of a rendezvous, or as you suggested, a "high level" meeting, would have one day aroused my anticipation, but now, after so many false promises and such unfaithfulness, enlists only ennui in doing that which we have done so dispassionately so many times before. Though it is true we must remain together for the sake of those who rely upon us, I feel I must be honest and confess that you have, to me, grown old, and that I no longer find you attractive.

You can expect, of course, that I will remain discreet in my (d)alliances.

John Wight
Pleasant Grove, Utah

From Friday's Letters to the Editor regarding A letter to America.
(subscription required)



After 911 we sought out those responsible for this act. All evidence points to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda though there was no proof of this then (OBL did not claim responsibility until last month's video translation). At the time, Al Qaeda was based out of Afghanistan which was nominally under the control of the Taleban (the Northern Alliance had been largely cornered and contained). After 911 the US approached the Taleban to hand over OBL. Omar asked for proof and we gave him insufficient evidence; Omar decides not to turn over OBL. Thus by GWB's proclamation those that harbor terrorists would be treated as if they are terrorists. Afghanistan was duly liberated. What is striking to me here is that had Omar handed over OBL, the Taleban would have likely remained in power today. What this says is that the Taleban was not themselves the problem, only by noncooperation did they become the problem and held accountable for their "house guests." Think about that for a second and how outrageous this actually is. But the war in Afghanistan was largely supported by the world, Europe, and leftists in the US.

Lets then review the situation with Iraq, which the world, Europe, and leftists in the US all opposed. Saddam was obligated by a ceasefire treaty from 1991 to prove he no longer had the wmd previously acknowledge in stockpile. Saddam was under a legal agreement that he failed to comply with; the responsibility of proof was on him. Others before him have successfully demonstrated disarmament (South Africa) and others after him have done so as well (Lybia). Was it too much to expect cooperation with treaty signed? Thus when one party (the US) to that (ceasefire) agreement no longer has faith the in the other party to honor the agreement, the treaty was nullified. The ceasefire was canceled and the shooting war was resumed.

In one instance (Iraq) the legal framework was clear and established (even if you disagree with the premature need to nullify the ceasefire for minor infraction and noncooperation; you must acknowledge that there was nominal breach of contract/ceasefire by Iraq). In the other instance the standing legal framework was disregarded (at least the US never formally recognized the Taleban as the government of Afghanistan, many nations in the world did) and a country was invaded for non cooperation. I am curious to know the pretext as to how those who were supportive of military action against the Taleban but were against the invasion of Iraq can justify their apparent hypocritical and inconsistent stance. Those that opposed both, being opposed to wars in general, were at least consistent. But if you were to support only one using the standards of the day, you should be supporting the current war in Iraq!

Personally i am for both, because both needed to be done. Afghanistan served as a blow against Al Qaeda and as a warning to other states not to harbor terrorism. Iraq serves to undermine the root of terrorism (Terrorism linked to lack of political freedom) by planting Freedom in a liberty parched land. A sound two pronged attack in the War against Terrorism.

I wish our coalition troops swift and decisive victory, minimal casualty, and maximal extermination of our foe.


the Lost

Most likely Arafat is dead just not yet acknowledged as reported in Debka. Regardless of which side you take in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, what is undeniable is the fact that the Palestinians are not any closer to Palestine.

The Infatada has failed the Palestinians. Only now are some recognizing this. From MEMRI:
"Palestinian columnists have recently published articles assessing the four years of the Intifada, in which they admitted that the grave harm caused to the Palestinians stemmed from their choice of suicide/martyrdom operations as the primary method of struggle. In addition, the PA's status as the leader of the Palestinian people has been undermined, and signs of anarchy in Palestinian society have increased. Some of the accounts described the Palestinians as closer to defeat than to victory, and complained about the lack of political achievements, lack of goals, and lack of strategic planning. The following are excerpts from the columns: "

When you embrace a culture of violence, it will consume you and darken your path toward self destruction.

I believe the Palestinians missed a great opportunity after 911 and again afterward. Naturally this is now a retrospective analysis and i do not blame the Palestinian leadership for missing it, after all nearly all of Western Europe leadership misread it as well. However, the Europeans already have their cozy nations, the Palestinians were still in line for one.

The Palestinians are clearly mismatched on the ground, suicide bombing and all. Their only chance to win the war is to repeat the success of the North Vietnamese, who lost the ground war but won the political war. While the terrorism associated with the infatada maybe justified by some pseudo-intellectual elite apologists, especially in Europe, it never was anywhere accepted by the Americans. This is important to acknowledge because the Europeans have little to no influence over Israel like the US does; only the US can leverage the Israeli toward a Palestinian state. The scenes of Palestinians dancing in the streets on 912 have alienated their cause toward a Palestinian state with the majority of Americans. The leadership should have calculated the course of event, whether the US would withraw from the Middle East or re-engage with renewed and aggressive vigor. Bush's speech should certainly have given them a clue were they listening. The bold move would have been for the Palestinian leadership to take the opportunity to acknowledge the failures of the infitada and renounce it. Better yet, renounce terrorism and proposed to help the US against terrorists. It would have been a tremendous opportunity to save face and renounce a fruitless strategy and join the winning side. As allies, the Palestinian would have had real leverage against the Israeli and effectively countered and neutralized the Israeli. But perhaps they could not ascertain whether the US will prevail or not. That question was resoundly answered in Afghanistan. Again the Palestinians had a second opportunity to renounce terrorism and join the war against terror when the US offered the "road map." Again they stuck to their tried and true, though failing path. Now come their third swing at bat with the passing of Arafat. The conventional path would be for the Palestinian to consolidate and continue as before. The radical move would be to swing against terrorism and approach the US as allies. Some in the PLA already has the support of the Bush administration, not to mention that Bush is the only president to publically state the Palestinian should have a state. It will not be easy to neutralize Hamas and Hezbolla but the Israeli have already done much recently to weaken both. The timing is perfect, the opportunity tremendous, the null alternative is doom. Continuing on the path of cultural violence without likelihood of victory will destroy the Palestinians.
Third time at bat, i hope them well, but i expect a strike out.



Since the election of W, i have encountered several instances where "Americans" felt incline to apologize to the world for the US electing Bush. I am going to skip the part where they are sore losers, as that is obvious. What is inappropriate is the condescention and lack of respect these apologists are showing to their neighbors and countrymen, as well as the ideals upon which this nation was established. Again i must touch back to the concept of tolerance and respect; if they cannot afford this to others, then how will they ask for it for themselves? Moreso how could they possibly believe that foreigners hold the moral or intellectual highground that would require any americans to apologize to them for? And how could any american want a president that would cater to foreign powers?
We elect our leadership based on how they would make our lives better, safer; for us first, and if others too would benefit, then even better. No one will look after us if we are not willing to do it for ourselves. Any vote otherwise is treason.
I am sorely disappointed and slightly disgusted at these apologists.



Kerry is going to concede. Much points for him to do so. Besides the obvious mathematical improbability of him winning Ohio, it also prevents dangerous precedence: that of allowing lawyers to arbitrate any electoral system as well as setting a dangerous precedence for fledgling democracy not to respect the democratic process.

Things to look forward to in the next four years:
1. Consolidation of the Middle East democratic changes started with Afghanistan and Iraq.
2. Ownership society within the US.
3. How the major media (who have all leaned to far left, forsaking their primary mission of informing the public for their own political and ideological agenda) will adjust.
4. How the Democratic Party will reform itself. Clearly the policies of selecting an "anyone but" candidate, as well as the remaining platform and principles were rejected by the voters as a whole (losses of congressional seats).
5. Realignment of US alliances away from Europe and more toward Asia (Russia included)

Over all, i am particularly hopeful for the next four years.



I was first in line when my polling station opened today. What drove me to vote was the principle of brotherhood. Brotherhood to the Americans who died from terrorist attacks, whether it is the marines in Beirut or the shipmen of the Cole, the victims of Oklahoma City or 911, and the individuals killed in hijackings and kidnappings. They are all my brothers and i felt an obligation to honor them. Brothers are the soldiers now fighting for our freedom, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and everywhere. Brothers are the allies and South Vietnamese who were betrayed when the major media, ivory tower pseudo-intellectuals, and well meaning but hood winked individuals declared that freedom of others were not worth fighting and dying for. And finally, brothers are the liberated Afghanis and Iraqi as well as those still yearning for freedom in the Middle East. We are all entwined with threads that bind us, not just as humans, but also through actions and reactions, and non-action and consequences.

I voted for George W. Bush.
Kerry just does not get it.



This week the European Union constitution was ratified. Timely enough two articles examining the nature of new Europe in relation to the US were published. One is from the Wilson Quarterly titled The Atlantic Widens and the other from the Washington Post.

The WQ article did an admirable job laying the background for anti-Americanism in Europe. Be aware that it spans centuries and not since GW took office. Basically the European's attitude stem from a sense of superiority, having a "richer" culture and having renounced "nationalism." What i find particularly amusing is that the attitude is typical of academicians here in the States or in the leftward media (don't ask me whether ours get it from Europe or both stem from some effect of prolonged departure from the average populace). It bears a certain amount of both arrogance and intolerance. Both shares a presumption that they know better (because they are "smarter") and because they are "clearly" right that any less is, well wrong! The worse aspect of this is how this attitude betrays the principle essential for a Democracy: tolerance. Tolerance in a democracy it is not about being right and forcing others to recognize this; tolerance in a democracy is about allowing the majority (whether it is a popular majority for a direct democracy or an electoral majority for a federalist democracy) to choose their own preference for themselves, right or wrong. Naturally safeguards are necessary to prevent the exploitation or oppression of a minority by the majority but short of this, we as a democratic people have a right to choose and have our choice respected. This is sadly lacking in the European attitude.

The Washington Post article looks to a future where the EU, a larger economic entity, will seek to rival, compete, and counter US presence globally, in essence to become a Europe superpower. I find this notion particularly laughable. This is not because the United States of Europe do not have the resources or capability to be a superpower, rather that Europe lacks the will and resolve to function as a superpower. Being a superpower requires more than a large economic market and global presence for its enterprises, it also require a driving ideology and the guts to act in alignment with ideology when challenged. The US is about capitalism and freedom; the old Warsaw pact was about communism; what will the USE be about? Peace and prosperity? And when that is challenged, whether it be Bosnia and Kosovo, Rwanda and Darfur, or Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, what was the European response? Talk and deliberation, but no action. Finally, the militaries of Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom and France, are largely incapable of major combat operation, whether it be a thousand miles away (Nato currently command the operation in Afghanistan and had a most difficult time procuring 6,000 additional troops to safeguard the recent election) or next door in Bosnia. Certainly Europe could change, but that would mean a return to the recognition that the world is a dirty place that requires sacrifice in blood. The Iraq war highlights they have a long way to go. I see both India and China are more likely to become functional superpowers before the EU will.

Finally, this is in no way a free pass for us to continue as we are, as there is much that can be improved with our own culture and society. We should continue to seek energy independence in an environmentally sound manner, and reassess our rampant commercialism. These are just two examples. But we must not look to Europe for approval, acknowledgement, or assent to act in congruity with our ideals, for ourselves and all who would want similar. US and Europe have diverged long before the existence of the EU.


Healing the Division

From San Diego

"John Kerry and George W. Bush ought to take a few minutes out of their schedule to have a heart to heart chat, much as Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy had six days after the 1960 presidential election.

"The Democrat and Republican should agree to accept the outcome of this year's presidential election, no matter how close, no matter which of the two candidates comes out on top. They also should forswear any post-election lawsuits. And they should urge their supporters to do the same."

Makes sense to me. In another word the candidates should agree on how to resolve election differences before they occur. A sort of election "pre-nuptual" instead of relying on lawyers. The last thing this nation need is for lawyers to take over the electoral process.

... However, i predict Bush by a majority of the popular votes and a significant majority of the electoral votes.



OBL's Endorsement:
"You American people, my speech to you is the best way to avoid another conflict about the war and its reasons and results. I am telling you security is an important pillar of human life. And free people don't let go of their security contrary to Bush's claims that we hate freedom. He should tell us why we didn't hit Sweden for instance. Its known that those who hate freedom don't have dignified souls.like the 19 who were blessed. But we fought you because we are free people, we don't sleep on our oppression. We want to regain the freedom of our Muslim nation as you spill our security, we spill your security.

"I am so surprised by you. Although we are in the fourth year after the events of Sept 11, Bush is still practicing distortion and misleading on you, and obscuring the main reasons and therefore the reasons are still existing to repeat what happened before. I will tell you the reasons behind theses incidents.

"I will be honest with you on the moment when the decision was taken to understand. We never thought of hitting the towers. But after we were so fed up, and we saw the oppression of the American Israeli coalition on our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind and the incidents that really touched me directly goes back to 1982 and the following incidents. When the US permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon with the assistance of the 6th fleet. In these hard moments, it occurred to me so many meanings I cant explain but it resulted in a general feeling of rejecting oppression and gave me a hard determination to punish the oppressors. While I was looking at the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it came to my mind to punish the oppressor the same way and destroy towers in the US to get a taste of what they tasted, and quit killing our children and women.

"We didn't find difficulty dealing with Bush and his administration due to the similarity of his regime and the regimes in our countries. Whish half of them are ruled by military and the other half by sons of kings and presidents and our experience with them is long. Both parties are arrogant and stubborn and the greediness and taking money without right and that similarity appeared during the visits of Bush to the region while people from our side were impressed by the US and hoped that these visits would influence our countries. Here he is being influenced by these regimes, Royal and military. And was feeling jealous they were staying for decades in power stealing the nations finances without anybody overseeing them. So he transferred the oppression of freedom and tyranny to his son and they call it the Patriot Law to fight terrorism. He was bright in putting his sons as governors in states and he didn't forget to transfer his experience from the rulers of our region to Florida to falsify elections to benefit from it in critical times.

"We agreed with Mohamed Atta, god bless him, to execute the whole operation in 20 minutes. Before Bush and his administration would pay attention and we never thought that the high commander of the US armies would leave 50 thousand of his citizens in both towers to face the horrors by themselves when they most needed him because it seemed to distract his attention from listening to the girl telling him about her goat butting was more important than paying attention to airplanes butting the towers which gave us three times the time to execute the operation thank god.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your hands. Each state that doesn't mess with our security has automatically secured their security."

Wretchard from Belmont Club
"It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out."

In addition, my interpretation is that OBL is very worried about the drive for Freedom in the Middle East, thus he declares they already have it. i believe that he recognizes the lack of freedom will help him recruit, thus he casts himself as a liberator of palestine, lebannon and oppression in general. He is not a hater of freedom and thus have a dignify soul. And to the muslim he is telling them that it will be he, not the US, that will bring them "freedom".
The jarring dissonance is to compare the US to ME despots, especially at a time when millions will go to the poll to elect the next leader of the US and to a lesser extent a peaceful and successful election in US liberated Afghanistan. Obviously his idea of freedom as previously declared is that of a muslim caliphate similar in tone to what the Taliban had.
He is not preaching to the west about freedom, he is targetting the middle easterner with this speech, rallying them to his cause with promises of freedom for themselves and security (note not victory) against the hated americans.

More than ever i believe the iraq war to inject democracy into the ME is the right war the right time and the right place.